Memory Monday 2: Porch Swing Lemonade

The new Country Living Magazine is devoted to the idea of "porching." (I can't tell you how many times auto-correct has tried to change that to "porting.")

That's right. Porching. As in having a porch, decorating your porch, inviting friends and family over to your porch, and enjoying quiet moments there yourself.

Serenbe, a fairly new planned community near Atlanta, Georgia, is known as the Porch Capital of the United States because this architectural feature is a prominent one in their home designs. 

So what's the deal with the porch? Why bring it back?

With the advent of air conditioning in the 1960s, we gained a lot of comfort but lost a lot of socialization. People used to gather on their front porches during hot nights in the summer, sitting in a porch swing and drinking a cool and refreshing beverage as they talked to neighbors who walked by or came up for a visit.

Face-to-face. Imagine that.

A porch is public and private.

You can sit out on the front porch and read a good book or two. . . 

. . . and people see you and sigh, thinking "that's the good life." (As well as  "I have to buy that book. ")

With or without a porch, you can still channel that easy, breezy, outdoors-but-civilized feeling with Porch Swing Lemonade.

Made with a fresh herb syrup straight from your garden and fresh lemons, it is flavor worlds away from that canister of powdery lemonade mix.

You can chop a little rhubarb and cook it in the syrup to make it pink, float fresh fruit in your lemonade, or serve it in an old-fashioned glass crock and garnish with more fresh herbs.

Porch Swing Lemonade

Wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the porch swing and visit with your neighbors, sipping a homemade lemonade? You really can sit back and relax if you make the syrups a few weeks or days ahead. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice right before you want to serve the drink. Stir it all together in a pitcher or portable container, and serve over ice. Adapted from Heartland: The Cookbook.

Serves 4 to 6

Fresh Herb Syrup:
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ cup packed fresh aromatic herb leaves, such as basil or lemon balm

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 7 large lemons)
1 1/2 cups water
Fresh lemon slices, for garnish
Sprigs of lemon balm or rosemary, for garnish

For the syrup, combine the sugar, water and herbs in a large microwave-safe glass measuring cup. Microwave on High for 3 to 4 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes to extract the best flavor.
Strain the mixture into a bowl and let cool. Use right away or store in a covered glass jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Stir the lemon juice, syrup, water, and sugar together in a large pitcher. Add lemon or lime slices and herb sprigs, if you wish.  Add more sugar to taste, if desired. Serve cold.

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